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‘Saikaku Ichidai Onna (The Life of Oharu)’

by Mark Schilling

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

Language: Japanese (subtitled in English)

In July, Criterion will release a new Blu-ray of “Saikaku Ichidai Onna (The Life of Oharu),” Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1952 masterpiece about a woman’s tragic fall from grace, starring Kinuyo Tanaka in the title role. This is the film that made Mizoguchi famous internationally and its unsparing examination of gender roles in this society, in which women can be classed as a disposable commodity, still rings true. Among the extras is a 2009 documentary about Tanaka’s 1949 goodwill tour of the U.S.